Cold Spray 3D printer manufacturer SPEE3D presented an impressive new batch of metal racing car parts produced using its technology at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.
Displayed at a stand near the Albert Park circuit during the Formula 1 race weekend, the prints shown appropriately demonstrated the sheer speed and accuracy at which the company’s WarpSPEE3D system is now capable of performing.
Developed for customer Garry Rogers Motorsport, a team competing in the S5000 and TCR racing series, these components ranged from 6.8 kilo heavy structural elements to wheel interiors, illustrating the end-use production potential of the speedy 3D printer from SPEE3D, during a weekend when Australia-based Motorsport was making headlines.
“It was exciting to showcase our technology at this fantastic event here in Melbourne,” SPEE3D CEO Byron Kennedy said of the event. “SPEE3D’s technology is the world’s fastest way to make metal parts, and what better place to show it than at the Grand Prix, which is synonymous with speed and innovation!”
Cold Spray 3D printing technology
Co-founded by engineering innovators Byron Kennedy and Steven Camilleri, SPEE3D’s core business is the commercialization of 3D printers that leverage its proprietary Cold Spray technology. Unlike normal metal systems, which rely on high-powered lasers and expensive gases, the company’s approach relies instead on harnessing kinetic energy.
In practice, in SPEE3D’s WarpSPEE3D 3D printer, this means blasting metal powder into the build area via compressed gas, in a way that gives the material the speed to deform and fuse with the substrate during the impact. As well as being cheaper and more flexible than traditional production processes, the company also cites the unit’s print speed of up to 100 grams/minute as the fastest in the world.
Given these advantages, it’s no surprise that the technology continues to find many applications, especially in the defense sector. The Australian military, for example, has been testing SPEE3D machines since at least 2014, using them more recently to 3D print spare parts for armored personnel carriers in the country’s remote Northern Territories.
In the past, the company has also disclosed plans to mass-print rocket engines in 3D with its systems, as part of the SPAC3D project. Since its announcement in July 2021, the program has seen SPEE3D receive A$1.25 million through the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI), to help it develop Cold Spray-produced propulsion systems designed to support the the country’s space sector.
Presentation in a temple of speed
During the SPEE3D showcase, fans visiting the Australian Grand Prix for on-track action were also treated to a display of some pretty impressive parts, as well as the production of dozens of real-time metal objects. This live exhibit, which took place at the circuit’s Versor Tech Hub, saw components up to 1000 x 700mm in diameter 3D printed, before being installed on an S5000 race car.
Among the exhibits at the event, one of the standout pieces was a large aluminum rear case, which only took five hours to print at a cost of $540, despite weighing 6.8 kilograms. Elsewhere, in heavier builds, SPEE3D also featured a 20-pound wheel center, in which the center discs were produced separately from the rims and strapped together, in a cheaper alternative to casting or machining.
SPEE3D also didn’t shy away from exhibiting parts with demanding use cases, putting in both a 3D printed metal intake manifold and an S5000 support arm, the latter designed to be mounted at side of the engine of the open-wheel vehicle. Given that the team cars are powered by big 560hp V8s that can reach speeds of up to 300km/h, the end-use components undoubtedly require very high thermal tolerances.
“Thanks to Byron Kennedy and SPEE3D for today’s Grand Prix tickets, I had a great time,” said Alex Kingsbury, Additive Manufacturing Industry Member and Head of Engagement at RMIT University, who attended the event in person. “And really cool to see the new demo parts on display including the S5000 support arms (2 hour print time – beat that!!). Other highlights include meeting the RMIT Formula team SAE and the discovery of some of the 3D printed parts of the AMP.
Additive manufacturing in motor racing
Apart from being deployed in the commercial automotive world, 3D printing is now being increasingly applied in different series of motorsports. In the MotoGP category, the Ducati Lenovo team recently revealed that Roboze has started 3D printing the fairing and thermal protection elements of its 2022 motorcycle.
Larsen Motorsports, meanwhile, has incorporated nScrypt 3D-printed engine parts into its “Gen 6” jet dragster. Specifically, using an ‘nRugged’ system, the company was able to replace outdated seals on its car’s fuel pumps with more durable manufactured seals, which have since been proven to be leak-free in a demanding six-month test. .
Elsewhere, even in the tough world of Formula 1, the technology has been adopted by teams up and down the grid, albeit to varying degrees. While McLaren Racing is known to have a long-standing partnership with Stratasys, the Alfa Romeo ORLEN team has fitted this season’s car with several end-use “critical” F1 parts.
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The featured image shows a SPEE3D printed aluminum support arm mounted on an S5000 race car. Photo via SPEE3D.